This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in
graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large
the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic
problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch
CENTRAL TEXAS: Bikes block
traffic; driver charged
by Jonathan Osborne,
American-Statesman Staff, PAGE: B2
AUSTIN -- Several dozen members of
the bicycle-awareness group Critical Mass blocked downtown traffic
Friday evening at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Cesar
Chavez Street in what rider Ezra Teeter called "a protest against a
lack of bicycle lanes."
The protest turned into a melee
when Mike Henderson, frustrated by the delay, drove his Jeep Wrangler
into the intersection. He narrowly missed several bicyclists but hit
the front end of Krissy Morrow's Honda Civic. "I was probably in the
wrong," said Henderson, who acknowledged driving into the crowd of
Henderson, who said he was beaten
by four bicyclists, was charged with reckless driving, said Austin
police spokesman Paul Flanigan.
The bicyclists cheered when
Henderson was handcuffed and placed in a squad car. An unidentified
bicyclist, whose friends said he was one of the riders who beat
Henderson, also was taken into custody, but police had no information
on him late Friday.
Morrow said she and her 4-year-old
son were not injured. But her Honda had to be towed away.
Said one bicycle rider who declined
to give his name: "We were just trying to raise awareness about bike
Photo: A Critical Mass meeting on
the UT West Mall, circa early 1990s
(Courtesy of criticalmasshub.com)
If you read the Metro &
State Roundup section of Saturday's Austin American-Statesman
(Sept. 29) you might be under the impression that a "melee"
instigated by cyclists with the activist group Critical Mass ended
with four of the cyclists beating the driver of a Jeep Wrangler
who got in their way. Not so, say at least two of the riders who
vociferously (and independently) objected to the Statesman's
version of events. "We're not looking for an article that is
pro-Critical Mass," said cyclist Ezra Teter. "[We're] just
looking for something to balance out the Statesman." According to
the Statesman account, the bicyclists were deliberately blocking
traffic at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Congress Avenue,
when a driver "frustrated by the delay" drove into the
intersection and "narrowly missed" several of the riders, "but hit
the front end" of another driver's car. Further, the paper
reported that Mike Henderson, the driver of the Wrangler, told the
Statesman that he had been "beaten by four bicyclists."
The unbylined reporter(s) were
right about Henderson's Jeep hitting another car -- but according
to other witnesses, the rest of the report is less than accurate.
According to Justin Davis --
the Statesman's "unidentified bicyclist" who supposedly
participated in Henderson's group beating -- the Critical Mass
riders encountered Henderson at the corner of Congress and Second.
"We had come to the intersection and while we were going through,
the light turned red," he said. In an effort to keep the group
together, the riders continued through the red light.
"[Drivers] at Second Street began to creep forward," he
said. "When I looked over, a guy in a Jeep -- four or five cars
back on Second -- just gunned it." According to both Davis and
Teter, Henderson drove around the other cars and began swerving
through the cyclists as they headed south toward Cesar Chavez,
where they finally had to stop for eastbound traffic. At that
point, said Teter, five or six cyclists, including Davis, got in
front of Henderson's car to stop him from moving. This is when
Henderson tried to continue driving southbound, and hit another
car. "I couldn't believe it," said Teter. "He just stepped on the
accelerator, with like five or six people in front of him, and got
one bike [Davis'] wedged under his front wheels."
According to both riders, Henderson got out of his Jeep and did
get into at least a pair of one-on-one altercations with cyclists,
but according to Teter and Davis, each quickly dissipated.
Shortly thereafter, APD
officers arrived, followed by a Statesman reporter and a
photographer. "The cops talked to [Henderson] and they
didn't even ask us what happened," Teter said. "Originally they
weren't even going to arrest him -- until we told the cops that we
had a video." Indeed, another of the cyclists had been running a
video camera throughout the entire event. Police ended up
arresting Henderson for reckless driving and Davis for
"obstructing a highway," apparently because his bike was lodged
beneath Henderson's Jeep. At press time, APD had not returned
phone calls requesting comment.
According to Teter and Davis,
the Statesman reporter -- like the cops -- failed to interview
cyclists about what exactly had occurred. "He never asked me what
happened," said Teter, "he just asked me what the political views
are of the people on Critical Mass." (The Statesman duly noted
that someone named Ezra "Teeter" called the ride "a protest
against a lack of bicycle lanes.") And Teter adds that the daily's
photographer made comments likening the Critical Mass cyclists to
the terrorists who attacked New York and D.C. "He said, basically,
that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 were just a more extreme
form of Critical Mass. ... I hardly expected them to write a fair
article, but I still couldn't believe it."
John Bridges, the Statesman's
acting metro editor, would not name the reporter on the story and
said he didn't know who the photographer was. Asked about the
photographer's reported comments, he responded, "That's the first
time I ever heard of that." Bridges insisted, "If you read the
brief, if makes it clear that we did talk to the cyclists," and
said he had received only one e-mail from a cyclist charging
inaccuracies in the story. "I don't agree," he said. "I don't
think the differences are enough to warrant a correction. ...
Basically everything you need is in the brief, as far as I'm
Last week, "Naked City"
reported on apparent discrepancies between the Austin
American-Statesman's coverage of a "melee" that occurred during
the Sept. 28 Critical Mass bike ride and what several cyclists
said actually happened. Riders Justin Davis and Ezra Teter
disputed the Statesman's assertion that four cyclists beat on
driver Mike Henderson at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Congress.
They contend that Henderson started the "melee" by racing his Jeep
Wrangler around traffic at the intersection of Second and Congress
and "fishtailing" through the pack of cyclists, nearly running
over several of them before hitting another car near the Congress
Davis and Teter said the
Statesman reporter never asked the cyclists for their version of
events. And, they add, the daily's photographer likened the
cyclists to the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and
Krissy Morrow, who had been
heading north on Congress when Henderson's Wrangler hit her Honda
Civic, recently contacted the Chronicle to shed additional light.
From her perspective, the cyclists were acting in a hostile and
aggressive manner toward Henderson. They "were blocking the
traffic there. There was a green light and no one could go," she
says. "Somehow, [the cyclists] had decided it was their
right to make a citizens arrest [of Henderson]."
Although Morrow didn't see the
action go down, she did notice that someone had slashed
Henderson's tires, and Henderson told her the cyclists spat in his
car. Morrow says she was frightened by the cyclists' hostility.
"They came over to my car [after the accident] to ask if I
was okay, and I said, 'yes, no thanks to you,' and rolled up my
windows and locked my doors."
Morrow does see eye-to-eye with
the cyclists in their characterization of the Statesman reporter's
impoliteness. (John Bridges, the Statesman's acting metro editor,
did not name the reporter who was at the scene, and told the
Chronicle he did not know who the photographer was.) The reporter
approached her while she was in her car and asked for her name. "I
guess I paused too long," she says. "He just turned around and
said, 'fine, I'll just get it off of the police report then.' He
was just rude."
I just wanted to correct some
inaccuracies in the article about the Critical Mass/Jeep incident
["Statesman Falls Off Its Bike," Oct. 5]. I was the driver
of the car that got hit. Now, I dislike aggressive drivers as much
as the rest of us, but I also know the law. Much as I would love
to forcibly stop someone after they cut me off and beat the crap
out of them, guess what? I don't have the right to.
Yes, when the cyclists stopped
traffic on Congress when the cyclists illegally ran a red light,
Mike Henderson probably should have just sat on his horn like the
rest of the drivers and just tolerated the delay. But he didn't.
He went around the traffic and stopped at the next intersection.
Too aggressive? Maybe. But we as Austin drivers all know how many
aggressive offenses we witness a day that go unpunished. If a
police officer doesn't witness it, basically it didn't happen.
Henderson then came to the next
intersection and stopped at the traffic light -- which is where
all this mess begins. The cyclists, apparently quite like Gomer
Pyle, decided they had the authority to make a citizen's arrest
for Henderson's aggressive driving. Now, even if they did actually
believe that they had the authority to detain Henderson, I ask
you, did any single person in the group actually make a call or
seek out police so that the proper authorities could intervene?
I'll answer this one for you -- no. Absolutely not. There is no
record of a report of an aggressive driver at First and Congress,
and even if there were a call -- the cyclists absolutely still did
not have the authority to detain Henderson. By the way, the
cyclists also harassed the passenger. "Accomplice to the crime" --
is that his charge, Gomer?
When the light turned green,
Henderson asked the cyclists to please leave him alone because he
was going forward. He then inched forward cautiously. When the
cyclists still did not heed his warning, he proceeded. Contrary to
the Chronicle's report, there were at most two cyclists still in
Henderson's path when he went forward. After Henderson landed, the
cyclists proceeded to slash his tires (note, this means they were
armed with knives) because they decided he was a flight risk and
then they keyed his car and spit into it (because as well all
know, keying a car and spitting into it greatly increases the
chances that it won't move).
And you know, if I were
Henderson, I would have done exactly the same thing and sped off.
I would have felt as threatened as he did and feel the need to
remove myself from the situation. "Fight or flight" -- it's human
instinct. And Henderson didn't want a fight -- would you take on
20 angry, armed cyclists?
To Critical Mass, if you want
to promote your cause, taking a day every month to break the law
in groups is not the way. If you're just a bunch of cyclists who
decide to get back at all the drivers who cut you off all month,
then call yourselves that. You're promoting a cause. You're just a
pain in the ass.
And to the Chronicle: You
criticize the Statesman for only getting half of the story. I
guess I must have missed the part in your article where you
managed to get the other half of the story (the non-cyclist
perspective) -- both my and Henderson's contact information are on
the police report. I object to the Statesman version as well, but
on the grounds that it is biased toward Critical Mass. Henderson
did not get "frustrated by the delay" and speed off. He had a
green light and the right to proceed, but the cyclists would not
allow him to do so. I guess the only agreement we can all come to
here is that the Statesman can't ever seem to get the story right.
Okay, with all the differing versions of what happened on the
Critical Mass bike ride in September ["'Statesman' Falls Off Its
Bike," Oct. 5 and "Naked City: Hypocritical Mass?" Oct. 12], how
are we to know what really happened? Simple: Watch the video which I
now have at www.BicycleAustin.info.
Here's a short summary: Mike Henderson, frustrated by the delay,
squealed his tires and sped his jeep recklessly through a pack of
cyclists, who parted to avoid getting hit. Cyclists then surrounded
him at the red light and yelled at him. The light turned green, and
then Henderson stepped on his accelerator, plowing right through
cyclist Justin Davis (slamming him into the ground), while Davis'
bike was caught under the wheels. Henderson proceeded to crash into
Krissy Morrow's Honda Civic which was waiting at the same light but
headed in the opposite direction. Henderson got out of his jeep and
one cyclist (reportedly one of those whose bike Henderson hit) pushed
Henderson's head with his hand.
Henderson then walked around his jeep and grabbed another
cyclist's bike, throwing it to the ground. That cyclist punched
Henderson in the face. No other punches were thrown, Henderson
certainly wasn't "beat up," and what little did happen certainly
wasn't unprovoked (though I by no means support it). During this
time, a cyclist slashed at least one of Henderson's tires.
Krissy Morrow's recent letter to the Chron about this event is
complete bullshit, as the video proves. Henderson didn't "inch
forward cautiously," he frickin' stepped on his accelerator with
people directly in front of him. Henderson didn't try to flee ô
la "fight or flight," since he then willingly got out of his jeep and
started mangling a cyclist's bike. And then the cyclists didn't "beat
the crap" out of Henderson, though the cyclist whose bike he was
mangling punched him once until Henderson backed off.
I stopped riding in CM myself about a year ago because the riders
were getting too confrontational for my tastes, and because most of
them didn't do any bike advocacy outside of CM. And I don't condone
the cyclists' aggression on the September ride either. But that said,
whatever the cyclists did on this ride pales in comparison to
Henderson's actions: He stepped on his accelerator and plowed through
cyclists directly in his path, and slammed into another car with a
child in the back. CM'ers didn't do anything close to this violent
Four frames from Jeff Lazar's video footage of driver
Mike Henderson mowing down cyclist Justin Davis with his Jeep at
the corner of Congress and Cesar Chavez, Sept. 28.
Cyclist Jeff Lazar's video footage of the Sept. 28 Critical Mass
bike ride paints a brutal picture of what took place on the corner of
Congress and Cesar Chavez that fated Friday [see "Hypocritical
]. Posted at cycle advocate Michael Bluejay's
www.BicycleAustin.info, the video shows Jeep Wrangler driver Mike
Henderson -- apparently annoyed by cyclists holding up traffic at the
intersection of Second and Congress -- swerving, tires squealing,
onto Congress and right toward the cyclists. After riders (who were
obviously angry and quick-lipped about it) surrounded Henderson at
the Chavez light, he plowed his Jeep directly toward cyclist Justin
Davis, who in turn was thrown to the pavement. To judge only from the
video, Henderson appears to drive recklessly into the cyclist either
without seeing or without realizing the potential consequences.
Cyclists upset about the Statesman's account of the ride contacted
"Naked City" last month to complain that the daily's reporter did
little to ferret out both sides of the story [See "Statesman
Falls Off Its Bike,"
According to the cyclists, the Statesman simply reprinted what
motorist Mike Henderson told their reporter -- that four Mass riders
beat him up.
In contrast, on Lazar's tape the alleged beating Henderson
described to the Statesman looks instead to be mutual aggression
between him and two bikers. Lazar's tape also shows at least one
rider slashing a tire on Henderson's Jeep. A second driver, Krissy
Morrow -- whose Honda Civic was struck by Henderson's Jeep as
Henderson tried to cross through the Cesar Chavez intersection with
Davis' bike lodged under his front axle -- agreed that the
Statesman's reporters were rude at the scene of the incident. But the
cyclists' hostility was frightening, she said, and their decision to
take the law into their own hands (by trying to detain Henderson at
the Chavez intersection) was wrong.
Austin cyclist Charles McNeil believes the Critical Mass bike
rides have become somewhat unruly. "They've gotten pretty bad,"
McNeil said. "I'd like to change it, but I don't feel like I can
effect change from the inside." McNeil, Bluejay, and a group of
cyclists have organized an alternative to Critical Mass they've
dubbed Courteous Mass. "We're going to ride by the law, stop at all
red lights, and all that good stuff," he said. "We're going to take
that good vibration to the Critical Mass to try and teach them to be
nicer." Surely, McNeil says, it is easier to catch flies -- or
motorists -- with honey than vinegar.
The inaugural Courteous Mass ride will take place Friday, Nov. 9,
at 6pm. Riders are asked to meet at the new Lamar pedestrian bridge
at the corner of Lamar and Riverside. Subsequent rides will take
place the second Friday of each month. Riders who'd like more info
can e-mail the group at [email@example.com].
Morrow is blowing smoke like nobody's business, as the
of the event clearly proves. Also see our commentary
on this whole incident.
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